Our Problem: Looking Righteous but not Acting Righteous

At the Jubilee Conference this weekend, I had the pleasure to hear Elaine Storkey speak. Elaine is Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall at Oxford in England. She is the UK President of Tear Fund (A Christian social action group seeking to take on the underlying causes of poverty), a Vice President of the University of Gloucestershire and a member of the Crown Appointments Commission.

Her address to the conference was based on Isaiah 58.

Isaiah recounts how the people of God were fasting and looking very righteous in their religiosity. And they say to God, “Why have we fasted, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” (Isaiah 58:3)

Their point of view was that they were doing their part, but God seemed to not take heed.

Then Isaiah shows them God’s point of view. God says, “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers… Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (vv. 3-7)

Elaine’s point: Our Christian worldview is seen more by what we do than by our religious words and rituals. When we work for social justice—seeking to eliminate poverty, champion for the oppressed, feed the hungry, to see all of humanity (even those that our nation might call ‘enemies’) as human (our own flesh and blood)—we are living out the Gospel.

This is whole-life discipleship. The Gospel is holistic—it is the good news of how God seeks to bring a people into relationship with himself through Jesus Christ so that they can be on his team to make a difference in the world. It’s not just about getting your ticket into heaven. It’s about being a part of God’s Kingdom, and participating in His Kingdom work in the world around us.

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